Homer Makes Custom Dinnerware for Yale University

“[Homer Laughlin has] a remarkable history and tradition of their own. No matter what we threw at them, they were unfazed.”

-Rafi Taherian, Yale University associate vice president of hospitality

Yale University is a place where tradition runs deep. Being in existence for 300 years—longer than the United States has been a country—there are plenty of traditions to go around. So, it was a big deal when the university sought to update the dinnerware used in its dining halls. Because here, no change is taken lightly. 

The task of designing new custom dinnerware for Yale fell to Homer Laughlin, another venerable American institution. Rafi Taherian, who oversees foodservice at Yale, wanted to move away from each dining hall having its own plate design, to create a broader sense of community across campus. “How do we acknowledge our rich diversity of arts, sciences, humanities, and other disciplines, but at the same time celebrate that we are one Yale University? Homer Laughlin helped us achieve that goal,” said Taherian

This new “One Yale” plate design would also be larger. “The older plates were small to begin with, and had a two-inch rim, so there was only six inches of space for food,” added Taherian. “We wanted larger plates so we could do away with trays in the dining halls.”

The reasoning behind this decision might be surprising. It’s all about sustainability. “Studies show that the use of trays prompts students to take food they don’t intend to eat, just to fill the tray,” explained Taherian. “So, we eliminate all that food waste. Then factor in the water we save by no longer needing to wash all those trays.” With the university serving 15,000 meals a day, the savings add up quickly. 

The university chose to work with Homer on the project because, with the company’s longevity, Taherian knew we would achieve the desired result.


“We needed durability and stackability. The plates had to resist stains and stand up to repeated washing. We didn’t want glazing chipping off. The bottom couldn’t scratch our antique wooden tables. There were so many factors to consider, even before we got down to talking about design,” Taherian emphasizes.


June 2018


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